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Cutchogue F.D. to host $16M firehouse bond vote

The Cutchogue Fire Department is holding an open house on Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. ahead of a Sept. 27 vote on a $16 million bond for expansions and renovations.

Most of the building would be torn down and rebuilt in a proposed remodel that would nearly double the square footage of the existing firehouse to nearly 21,000 square feet, with space for administrative workers, community meetings and storage, along with a kitchen, bunkroom and members’ lounge. Truck bays would be built to accommodate future vehicle upgrades.

A summary of the estimated debt service and tax impact for a 23-year bond projects that a $15 million loan would result in a tax increase for fire district residents of $48.92 per $1,000 of assessed value. The same loan over 30 years would generate a tax increase of $44.59 per $1,000.

The timeline for the project is estimated at a year to 18 months from bond approval. While work is in progress, fire vehicles would be moved to a building across the street and clerical work could be done in a rented office or a temporary structure. 

The firehouse was last expanded in the 1990s. During a facility tour at an open house in late July, commissioner Mike Finnican pointed out several issues with the building, including cramped space, exposed electrical wiring and a leaking roof. 

According to presentation materials distributed at the prior open house, some response vehicles are housed in a building across the street from the main firehouse, which can cause problems for volunteers reporting to two different buildings. Turnout gear is stored on racks near the trucks, which can be dangerous for members gearing up near moving vehicles.

The current building also lacks a required vehicle exhaust ventilation system, needed storage and ADA accommodations. Other concerns include structural cracks in the 1928 portion of the building and the proximity of the existing kitchen to the truck bays, which poses a potential health code violation.

Additionally, the chief’s office is in a basement with one exit, directly under bathrooms that have been prone to leaking in recent years, causing damage to equipment and records.

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